In what was something that most retail and F&B establishments didn’t foresee coming amidst new Covid-19 protocols, the Tamil Nadu Government took similar measures as in Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka and announced tighter restrictions for people movement in the state from 1 – 10 Jan. ’22. In a high level meeting chaired by Chief Minister MK Stalin and his key cabinet colleagues including KN Nehru, K Ponmudi, Ma Subramaniam along with senior bureaucrats, the council decided to bring in a slew of measures to ensure the new variant of the virus, the Omicron doesn’t spiral into something larger than forecasted.
As per the new announcements, offline schools shall remain suspended for classes 1 – 8 while kindergarten and play schools shall not function either. For higher classes and colleges, offline sessions would continue as per prevailing protocols and safety guidelines.
With regards to the retail sector, large format retail establishments selling apparel and jewellery shall allow only 50% customers while all dine-in restaurants shall also allow only 50% seating. Similarly only 50% customers shall be allowed in beauty parlours, spas and gyms. Cinema Halls and Entertainment parks shall not allow 100% capacity instead revert to the previous 50% capacity with two adjoining seats compulsory sealed for occupancy. No specific guidelines other than prevailing ones have been announced for small format retail stores, especially the organised ones selling apparel, footwear, etc. Similarly, no restrictions have been specifically been announced for Malls and Shopping Centres.
Only 50% capacity shall be allowed in public transportation including Buses, Metro rail and app based cabs / taxis. Though these guidelines are until 10 Jan. ’22, it is easily possible to guess that these guidelines shall prevail until the Pongal weekend, which completes on Sun. 16 Jan. ’22.
Just when the entire Retail Industry was looking for a massive revival in 2022, the Omicron threat has created serious business continuity issues for the already ailing sector. With a slew of movie releases in Jan. including Actor Ajith Kumar’s Valimai (Tamil) and Director’s SS Rajamouli’s magnum opus – RRR (Telugu), there was a huge expectation of increased footfalls and higher spends. All these plans have taken a backseat, although with good intentions of containing spread of the virus.